The Ministry of Home Affairs has directed all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel to get the 'precautionary dose' of Covid vaccine before joining poll duty for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, officials said.
The MHA directive came after rising number of Covid-19 cases in the third wave, which has spread across the country, infecting paramilitary personnel as well.
The Director Generals of CRPF, BSF, SSB and ITBP have been asked to arrange the precaution doses for the force personnel and majority of them have already been inoculated, officials in the forces said.
Around 650 companies of paramilitary forces have been designated for poll duty in the five poll-bound states.
The officials also said that during the electioneering process, these personnel will play a vital role by providing security cover to the polling booths and counting centres as well as the strong rooms where EVMs will be kept after polling. If any person gets infected by Covid-19, the whole unit will be isolated, which may affect the poll process.
The forces have also been asked to carry masks and sanitisers in adequate numbers and quantity during their deputation in the states.
The officials, quoting the ministry's direction, said that administrations in the poll-bound states have been asked to arrange specious accommodation for the stay of the central security forces as per the Covid protocol.
Normally, the state government or district administration arranges premises like schools or government facilities, but this time they have directed specifically to arrange specious accommodation so that social distancing and other norms could be followed easily by the force personnel.
The troops will take care of sanitation and other precautionary measures and if needed, the local administration will assist them.
The Home Ministry has asked the paramilitary forces to appoint a nodal officer in each force to coordinate with the state government/district administration regarding their movement from one place to another, a senior official said.
He also said that owing to the Covid factor, movement of the troops from one place to another has been discouraged, barring in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur which have multi-phase elections.
According to the EC, Uttar Pradesh (403 seats) will vote in seven phases from February 10 to March 7, Uttarakhand (70 seats) and Goa (40 seats) will have single-day voting on February 14, Punjab (117 seats) will vote on February 20, while Manipur (60 seats) will go to the polls two phases on February 27 and Mach 3.
The counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.
( 444 Words)